Monday, December 6, 2010

And let the Holiday's Begin!

Well, we have officially entered the holiday season. I made a thanksgiving dinner for my host family - which went well, even with my complete lack of turkey-cooking experience and the changes in ingredients.
And, in Liège, there is a "Marché de Noel" - lot's of little shacks with gifts, food and drinks, and holiday music playing through the speakers. It's very festive and awfully cute! There are decorations throughout the city, it has been snowing on and off for almost a week now - there isn't a lot of build-up, but there's enough snow to make everything shimmer a little bit and put you in the holiday spirit!
There's also enough snow and ice to make the stair incredibly scary - especially when you're late for school! I haven't actually fallen yet, but I've come very close...
It's St. Nicholas right now - which is a little bit like Christmas in America, but not quite. Only the children receive gifts, and it is a huge event for University students. They all wear their white lab coats (which are never washed, and accordingly are cleverly decorated and smell horrible), and ask for money on the streets and at the entrances of the schools - and if you don't give them money, they throw flour, eggs and/or beer on you! Luckily, I didn't get hit - but there were a lot of white faces at school.
And, in slightly less festive news - exams start thursday!
Happy Turkey Day and Happy St. Nicholas!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


So I haven't tried this yet, but this is supposed to be a public link to my photos on facebook!
Hopefully it works!
Everything is going very well, and I send my love from Belgium!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


So, when before I arrived here I thought I would constantly have to deal with a general dislike of Americans. Thankfully, that is not at all the case. So far, I have found nearly everyone to be incredibly kind, helpful and interested! However, there are some people who have some interesting ideas of what life is like in America.
  • I do not eat at McDonald's every day or even often, and I don't watch tv all the time. In fact I watch more tv here with my host family than at home!
  • Life is not like Gossip Girl.
  • I do not spend my life playing beer pong and going to football games (although, I have realized that my high school is really a very stereotypical small-town high school with homecoming, prom etc.).
  • I do not live in New York City.
  • I do not live in Los Angeles.
  • I have never been to California ("7 hours on a plane! But it's just one country!")
  • Not everyone has new cars.
  • Yes, Obama is really cool.
And most of the time, I find that people are honestly curious. And everyone thinks that an American accent is cute. Every once in a while I feel like I should say "sorry" for America, but honestly, I think that's mostly me.

And in other news:
It is starting to get chilly here, and it really feels like fall. And of course, it's still gorgeous!
School is going well. My classes are hard, but I believe for the most part, I'm passing. Which, for the first time in my life completely satisfies me. And I know that my french will only improve!
My teachers are all very nice and very understanding.
I made pancakes for my host family this morning. They turned out a little different from what I'm used to, but they loved them. Who knew that baking soda and baking powder would be so hard to find? So I used yeast instead. And rice oil instead of butter or vegetable oil. And we ate them with the maple syrup cream my family sent as a gift to my host family. It was really great!

And I just tried to upload some photos, but it didn't work very well, so I'll try again later!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

1 Month!

So, yesterday marked 1 month in Belgium for me!
It has certainly been hard at times, but I can say that I am having a great time! Liège is a beautiful city, and I believe (hope) my french has already improved! At least my confidence in speaking french.

Some things I have learned are:
  • You kiss everyone (as a greeting, of course)!
  • The chocolate is fantastic
  • Everyone is curious about America - and surprised when they learn that I don't watch tv or eat at McDonald's often.
  • Scouting here is not at all the same as in the US.
  • Almost everyone is very friendly
  • The littlest things can set off homesickness
  • How to use the buses
  • That gestures are completely different (tapping my head to say "I've got it, I understand" probably translates to "I'm crazy")
  • Ballet is the same in every language - contemporary dance is not.
  • And, even if I am completely bonkers to leave everything I know and love for a year - it is completely worth it!
School is certainly hard (even English). And the subjects I thought would be the same are not in fact the same at all. For example in math - here the imaginary number doesn't exist at all!
And it's hard (and a little strange) to try and make friends in another language - luckily for me everyone seems to be super nice.
I consider myself incredibly lucky in my placement in a host family - they're perfect! And especially lucky when compared to other exchange students who already have issues with their host family.
Everything is going well, and I love Belgium!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Almost there!

I am leaving in less than a week for New York City and in exactly one week I will be landing in Brussels, Belgium on the 20th - my 16th birthday! I have all my forms in order and have only a few things to finish up with before I am completely ready. And I keep finding people that I may not see again for an entire year, and it's hard to say goodbye to them. My friends threw a surprise party for me on Tuesday which was absolutely sweet!
I cannot wait to see the other people going to Belgium and meet my host family! I believe I am past feeling nervous - at this point I know there is no going back. I am mostly very excited, and slightly sad. I will miss everyone here in Maine so much. And the ocean as well, but it will all be well worth it.
Also, please do not expect a blog post either right before I leave (this can count as that) or as soon as I arrive. I will be tired, busy and wanting to experience Belgium and AFS - not wanting to stare at a computer screen!
My adventure is about to begin for real and I am so, so excited!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's Happening!

As I get closer and closer to my departure the entire experience becomes more and more exciting (if that is possible!). I found out about my host family recently - making the experience much more personal and much more real. The family seems absolutely wonderful!
I also just received my country information packet. It answered a lot of questions, but also made the trip much more serious, and made me truly nervous for the first time. Which is okay, because there is plenty of reason for me to be nervous.
My friend (going to Italy through AFS) and another girl (going to the Netherlands through Rotary) and I all hosted and International Dinner together, cooking food from the countries we are going to. It was a great fundraiser! We hope to organize one more before we all leave, and definitely one after we return and have actually experienced the recipes first hand.
All in all, as I get closer to leaving pour la Belgique, I have become more excited and more nervous - faced with the reality of what I am doing. And I cannot wait!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pre-departure Orientation

I just returned from my AFS pre-departure orientation. It was very interesting and a lot of the information was very important, but I have to say my favorite part was simply the people who attended. Returnees, students on exchange and students like myself who have yet to leave all got to communicate with each other and share information and stories. It was simply amazing to meet students from every corner of the world. I learned traditional Indonesian dance and got advice from Belgian exchange students. Over-all, it was an amazing experience and it convinced me more than ever the importance of youth exchange.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I just found out this past Sunday that I am in fact going to French-Belgium with AFS! And I am SO excited! I feel like it is a dream come true (because it is). I heard about my placement later than most people because there was an issue with my being 20 days too young for the program. Thankfully my adviser at AFS and other AFS-USA employees worked with AFS-Belgium and I am being permitted to go. I have already started eating meat in preparation for my year of experiencing a new culture's cuisine. I am about to start selling hand printed T-shirts to fund raise (if you're interested - let me know!). I am so excited and so thankful for this experience!